A response and open invitation to Ken Ham

GOE is inviting Ken Ham or a representative to an open dialogue about evolution, creation and the proper interpretation of Genesis (photo via Pixabay). GOE is inviting Ken Ham or a representative to an open dialogue about evolution, creation and the proper interpretation of Genesis (photo via Pixabay).

In recent months, it seems as though Ken Ham is focusing more than usual on responding to critics — all of whom are Christians, as far as I know — who suggest his organization’s obsession with a particular view of the first 11 chapters of Genesis is detrimental to the gospel message and the faith in general.

In an interview last month with the Bad Christian podcast, I said something similar about young-earth groups like Ham’s Answers in Genesis: “There are some groups and individuals out there that have a very large following for which [evolution] is a really big issue and they say that [not believing in it] is a real central component of what it means to be a real Christian, or a Bible-believing Christian. And I think that does kind of hurt the gospel to an extent.”

I didn’t mention Ham or AiG by name, but I was certainly thinking of them. Of course, they are far from the only ones. There are countless groups around the world that, for various and often inexplicable reasons, have made it their top priority to attack evolution and promote the idea that the universe is younger than the invention of beer. Ham and AiG just happen to be the most well-known, prominent and cash-rich among their diverse sea of competitors.

Ham doesn’t appreciate when people like me or Mike McHargue accuse him of teaching that the gospel necessitates young-earth creationism. In a post on his blog last week, Ham took issue with several of my statements. Not surprisingly, Ham’s post is little more than the cherry-picking of a quote here and there as an opportunity to trot out his same three or four tired old talking points about “the authority of God’s word” and “observational science vs. historical science” and so on.

But I would like to share just a few of his comments, and I would encourage you to click over and read the entirety of Ham’s criticism of me, and decide for yourself if you think it’s valid.

I would also like to share my opinion of how Ham brilliantly and subtly skews and slants everything he writes and quotes from toward his perspective and away from those he deems to be his opponents. Say what you will about him (and I’ve said my share), but the man is as gifted a spinmeister as any big-time D.C. publicist, and he knows his audience like the back of his evolved fin — I mean, hand.

The Christian Post recently reported on a podcast that featured GodofEvolution.com creator Tyler Francke. (Please note the first eight minutes of the podcast are extremely vulgar and the entire podcast contains offensive language. Because this podcast received exposure in Christian media, I had one of our researchers listen to it. After receiving a report on the vulgar nature of part of the discussion, I would not advise any of you to actually listen to this podcast. The fact that we have to give such a warning speaks volumes about the attitudes of those involved in this podcast.)

Ham’s first paragraph. See how he wastes no time in piling on the fear and trying to draw a sharp contrast between “good Christians” like him and us. After a brief introductory note, he somehow deems it necessary to dive into a four-sentence disclaimer warning his readers about our “extremely vulgar” and “offensive” conversation. (For the record, the only criticism I’ve heard from people who actually listened to the podcast was that I was “too polite.” I suppose I wouldn’t be that suprised if civility digusts Ken Ham, especially when it comes from a “compromising Christian” like myself.) In so doing, he seems to betray exactly how infantile he believes his grown audience to be — such that they can’t possibly be trusted to determine for themselves what media they would like to listen to. Notice, also, how he tries to cast aspersions on me and my “attitude,” though I was not involved in the segment he found so objectionable, and indeed, was as unaware of it as anyone else until the whole podcast was released.

Tyler Francke explains that he considers himself to be an “evangelical, born-again Christian” and that he believes the Bible is true. He and the podcast hosts make the point that biblical creation is not a salvation issue. Now, I would like to point out that I agree with Francke that the creation/evolution debate is not a salvation issue. Like I’ve said before, salvation is dependent on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not on your view of origins.

In a segment of his article subtitled “Evolution Is an Attack on God’s Word,” Ham claims that he agrees with me that “the creation/evolution debate is not a salvation issue” (though those who aggressively police Ham’s Facebook page apparently have no problem letting his fans post comments such as, “Creation and the gospel are inseparable,” and “Creation is essential to the gospel”). The problem is that, while Ham and his organization give lip service to the idea that someone could disagree with them and still squeak into heaven, they give every other indication that a Christian who accepts evolution is a horrible travesty. They say disagreeing with them makes you a “compromising Christian,” who doesn’t acccept the authority of God’s word (what Christian would want to do that?). They say it is a “slippery slope,” which leads to rejecting Christ’s nature and resurrection, and eventually, full-on atheism. They teach that the reason the gospel is true is — not that Christ is risen and he lives — but that the earth is only about 6,000 years old (which leads to the perfectly reasonable but disturbing inverse: If the idea that the earth is 6,000 years old is not true, then neither is the gospel).

These are guilt-laden, emotionally charged arguments. Essentially, they are saying, “I mean, you can be a Christian and believe in evolution, you’re just not a very good Christian.”

But this doesn’t mean that the debate is a “non-central issue.” It’s an issue that is central to the very gospel because it’s an attack on the authority of God’s Word—from which we get the gospel message! It’s a question of whose authority you’re going to accept: man’s ever-changing opinions or God’s authoritative Word?

Except that the vast majority of Christians who accept evolution maintain just as high a view of scripture as any other believer. C.S. Lewis rejected the literal interpretation of the creation accounts, and was arguably one of the most effective and influential Christian apologists of the past 100 years. Billy Graham, father of modern evangelicalism, rejected the literal interpretation of the creation accounts, and brought the gospel before millions of fresh ears. Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield rejected the literal interpretation of the creation accounts, and was among the staunchest and most prominent defenders of biblical inerrancy of his day. Indeed, Christian theologians and church fathers going back at least as far as Origen and Augustine in the third and fourth centuries (about a millennium and a half before Darwin, in other words) saw reason to acribe non-literal, allegorical meaning to Genesis.

Ham is obfuscating the real issue. It is not simply a question of “whose authority you’re going to accept.” It is a question of whether you’re going to believe the creation accounts are — like all of Christ’s parables, and much of Psalms, Proverbs and the books of the prophets, including Revelation — theologically and morally true stories cloaked in allegory and metaphor, or the only time in all literature that a talking animal (whose ability to speak is not explicitly described as a miracle) and trees with magical powers were indicative of a historical account rather than a symbolic one.

Now, Francke claims to be a Christian, and I have no reason to doubt his testimony

How magnanimous.

but, in the area of origins, he clearly has chosen to accept fallible man over God’s infallible Word.

Actually, I have simply chosen to disagree with him over the correct interpretation of God’s infallible Word.

That’s the real issue in the debate!

Agreed.

Francke stated, “Evolution can be everything that the scientific evidence indicates that it is and that Christianity can be everything that the Bible says it is and should be and that those two do not need to come into any kind of conflict.” But what he failed to tell his listeners is that evolution and the account of creation in Genesis are completely and utterly in conflict with one another. Evolution teaches that all life evolved slowly over millions of years; Genesis teaches everything was created in six, literal 24-hour days. Evolution has one kind of organism giving rise to another kind, but Genesis states everything was created to reproduce “according to its kind.” Evolution requires death and disease being around for millions of years, but according to Genesis death arrived after the Fall as a punishment for sin. Evolution places certain land animals before birds; Genesis has birds before land animals. Evolution describes mankind as the descendant of an ape-like creature, whereas in Genesis man was specially created by God from the dust and woman from his side (as referred to in the New Testament also). Despite saying multiple times that there is no conflict between evolution and the Bible, Francke did not address even one of these theological problems!

If any of the Bad Christian hosts had asked me to address these “theological problems,” I would have been happy to do so. It’s actually quite simple: I believe the first few chapters in God’s word were meant to teach theology, not history or science, therefore they do not and cannot conflict with what the evidence in God’s creation indicates about history or science.

What he fails to understand is the difference between two kinds of science: observational and historical. Observational science is the kind of science that we can test, observe, and repeat—its what gives us space shuttles and medical advancements. Historical science deals with the past and cannot be tested, repeated, or observed.

Right. The only way we can do science at all is because God created a law-governed, rational universe, but we can’t trust the evidence of the past, because God may have ignored and completely contradicted the laws that govern the universe when he was designing and creating the universe.

What few people know is that, Creation Museum attendance notwithstanding, where Ham has really made his money is in the legal profession. His historical/observational science argument has worked miracles for even the most seemingly dead-to-rights guilty defendants and have made his counsel a hot commodity. “Were you there?” Ham has asked countless juries and — unable to answer in the affirmative — each one has had no choice but to toss all that useless forensic “evidence” and police “investigation,” and let his clients walk free.

In all seriousness, I’m glad Ken Ham listened to (or, rather, ordered “one of his researchers” to listen to) and responded to my interview with the hosts of Bad Christian. I see it as an opportunity for some valuable dialogue. And though I took this opportunity to respond to some of Ham’s claims, my primary reason for writing this is to invite him, or any representative of Answers in Genesis, to a dialogue with me about evolution, creation, the gospel and the proper interpretation of Genesis.
Obviously, we both agree that the gospel is a very important message — as far as I’m concerned, the most important message the world has ever seen. So surely, if one of us is doing disservice to the gospel, it would be in both of our best interests to dialogue on the matter and get things straightened out.

I have no doubt that Mr. Ham and his staff are very busy, what with the ongoing construction of their Ark Encounter theme park, but what an opportunity this would be for them: to speak directly not just to me, but to the entire GOE community, and demonstrate how our views supposedly “compromise” the authority of God’s word!

I look forward to hearing his response.

Tyler Francke is the founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached here.

  • Dylan

    Well said Tyler. I hope to see Ken Ham respond.

  • Seth

    Very well written. I hope Ken Ham responds also, though I would be more surprised if he did than if he didn’t. I especially liked the comment about court rooms, which is exactly what I was thinking when I watched the debate and Ham made his false dichotomy. Also very cool you mentioned Augustine. My favorite quote from him: http://www.pibburns.com/augustin.htm

  • “Ham has asked countless juries and — unable to answer in the affirmative — each one has had no choice but to toss all that useless forensic “evidence” and police “investigation,” and let his clients walk free.”

    YES! POSTHUMOUS FREEDOM FOR JEFFERY DAHMER! HE WAS INNOCENT, I TELL YOU!

    • H/T to Mr. Christopher Alex Jones for reminding me of the courtroom analogy. I had previously conceived of an analogy responding to the “historical/observational science” argument in the context of a forensic detective, but I think the trial lawyer works even better.

  • Thom Foolery

    “the inverse is also true: If the earth is not 6,000 years old, neither is the gospel”

    That is what killed my adolescent faith, more or less.

    • Sorry to hear that, Thom. Around here, we see Christianity as being based on something much more real and lasting than such a shaky scientific proposition as that advanced by the likes of Ken Ham and co.

      • Thom Foolery

        Tyler, I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and enjoy what I have read. It is a good antidote to the Ken Ham material my parents got me for my 42nd birthday. (Oy! And this after a decade of my being an instructor of world religions at the local community college. Painful.)

        • That is embarrassing… I feel like I need to apologize for Christendom #We’reNotAllLikeThat. But anyway, glad you like the site!

  • HC

    As a side note, I have to say: as much as I appreciate your website, those “first eight minutes” did turn me off from listening to the podcast, so I don’t what you actually said about evolution.

    I have to wonder what AiG’s goal is in criticizing you and other Christians/Christian organizations/Christian colleges. If they really think they have a good argument against evolution, why do they need to attack other Christians?? If it’s dialogue they want, why don’t they contact the organizations they disagree with instead of reporting to their readers how horrible the Christians they attack are?

    • Hey HC! Thanks for the comment, and I appreciate and can understand how the introduction might have put you off listening. (For the record, our interview starts at about the 41-minute mark, if you’re still interested in hearing the discussion.) That being said, it would have been no trouble at all, and more truthful, for Ham to have said something like, “The first portion of the program contains material I found objectionable, but the actual interview, which starts at about 41 minutes in, did not.” Instead, he tries to poison the well against me.

      You ask a good question. I can only assume they don’t really want dialogue, they want battle lines, and to scare as many people into their camp as they possibly can. I simply can’t see how they could do what they do and honestly care about church unity the slightest bit. Either they don’t care about church unity or, despite their protests to the contrary, they don’t believe Christians who accept evolution are really part of the church.

    • ashleyhr

      AiG and co DON’T have good convincing and straightforward arguments against mainstream ‘historical’ science (though they do have their carefully selected ‘evidences for a young Earth’). Essentially they oppose reams of science because they think such ‘science’ contradicts scripture (it does unless you allegorise). Look at Ham making excuses for losing (though he has not admitted doing so) the debate with Bill Nye, for instance:
      “Many people have lingering questions from the debate and are curious about how, if given more time than I had during the debate, I would have countered Mr. Nye’s claims.” (Ham had plenty of time but claims he did not.)
      http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/09/18/powerful-new-book-available-for-preorder/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+KenHam+%28Around+the+World+with+Ken+Ham%29
      And look at the whining by Ham sidekicks recently:
      “He used slide after slide covering many different topics to try and intimidate people into believing his worldview …”.
      https://answersingenesis.org/creation-vs-evolution/destruction-or-salvation-what-motivated-the-nye-ham-debate/?utm_source=aigsocial09052014nyemotivation&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebooktwittergooglelinkedin
      Er – I thought it was a DEBATE? On a level playing field. And requested by … Answers in Genesis.

      • Blunt Belief

        I watched the debate a day or so after it happened. It was pathetic. Unfortunately I actually overheard a Christian acquaintance talking to someone else about it a few days later, describing it as Ham “owning” Nye. I had to leave the room for fear I would lose what’s left of my mind.

        • Believe it or not, the majority opinion I heard from YEC Christians I know personally is that they were not impressed with Ken Ham’s performance, or how he presented the Christian faith. That was pretty encouraging to me.

  • alan s

    Well done, Tyler! I hope that he responds to your request. I would be quite surprised if Ham ever changed his views, but I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to hope that he might at least come to the point where he can
    recognize that serious, faithful Christians can differ on the interpretation of Genesis (just like most people have been able to recognize that good Christians can differ about the interpretation of Revelation). Currently, Ham may acknowledge us as Christians, but takes every opportunity to call us “compromising Christians”; I believe that’s a textbook example of what they call “damning with faint praise”, and isn’t much less off-putting than simply being called an unbeliever. “Ok, ok, YES, you’re a Christian…just a BAD one” – Oh, thanks Ken, I appreciate that! Now, this is no reflection on you, Tyler, since you weren’t involved in the segment, but I DO agree with Ham that the beginning segment of “Bad Christian” concerning Bret Favre was very disappointing, particularly in light of Ephesians 5:4, where Paul admonishes us to “let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” I just don’t see that such talk is defensible, especially since this is a public proadcast, not just a couple guys shooting the breeze in the locker room. That being said, I also agree with you that Ham was trying to “poison the well”, so to speak, by making a fuss about it.

    • Hey Alan, thanks for your comments! I appreciate the support, and hope Ham takes us up on the offer for dialogue as well. In all honesty, I would be surprised if he did so, but at least we tried! 🙂

      As to your other point, yeah, I can definitely see where you’re coming from there, and I can certainly understand why the segment was off-putting. At the same time, it would have been no trouble at all, and more truthful, for Ham to have said something like, “The first portion of the program contains material I found objectionable, but the actual interview, which starts at about 41 minutes in, did not.” Instead, he tries to poison the well against me.

      • Professor_Tertius

        I’ve not yet been able to find the Bad Christian podcast episode which featured your interview. (Even the search feature at the Bad Christian Soundcloud page is incomplete and not well designed. So I found nothing.) However, I did listen to some of their other podcasts.

        I have to say that I really tried to appreciate their very “artistic” bent and creative orientations. But I grew all the more sad the more I listened to the Bad Christian hosts in various of the numbered episodes. Not only do they seem to totally disregard the teachings of the scriptures concerning their language and attitudes, they appear to judge everything they do according to whether or not it was “authentic” and true to their “creative vision”. Frankly, it sounded like a lot of rationalizations for ignoring the Bible’s teachings about not being like the world and about crucifying the flesh. (They discussed whether it was a sin NOT to spew vulgar cussing right and left. Seriously? Are they age 13 and bratty?) They seem caught up in a kind of arrogance that any decision made to avoid creating needless stumbling blocks to the Gospel would be “inauthentic” and therefore “wrong”. I would love to ask them for their interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s admonitions about offending a weaker brother. They seem to consider offending a brother to be some sort of feather in their cap (or bumper decals on their old van.)

        I really really tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, but in one instance after another, they seemed to descend into a kind of childish teenage rebellion—even thinking that spewing the maximum number of vulgar words in the span of ten seconds made them “cool” and better than their critics. What really shocked me was how they kept justifying their various decisions to IGNORE the admonitions of others (e.g., “this could harm your opportunities for bookings with churches”) by saying, “The Holy Spirit made clear that….” Frankly, what they seemed to attribute to the Holy Spirit sounded to me much more like the sin nature. It’s as if they invoke “the Holy Spirit card” every time they wanted to justify some silly and carnal decision.

        I do hope that my random samplings of their program podcasts just happened to pick their very worst and most juvenile programs. But I know that that is probably an unrealistic wish on my part.

        I also got the impression that they needed to condense some of their podcasts into about one-tenth of the time after removing lots of shoot-the-breeze nonsense that seemed to be “wisdom” that only they thought wise. It’s not that everything the hosts said was terribly carnal and childish—but just not much of it was wise, interesting, or uplifting. (I wonder if they are aware of a scripture which lists some of the criteria for judging what we choose to say.) A lot of their discussions sounded like private conversations in somebody’s basement after a show—and simply didn’t deserve broadcast. Do they care if their conversations interest anyone? Or are they just overly impressed with themselves? (Obviously, their INTERVIEW programs, such as with Peter Enns, had considerably more merit.)

        The Bad Christian hosts did succeed in one rare achievement: I found myself agreeing with Ken Ham (about their behavior) and I RARELY agree with Ken Ham. I didn’t agree with HOW Ken Ham complained about them and I didn’t like how Ham tried to spin their childishness to his advantage—but I can’t expect Ham not to be Ham.

        Am I just a grouchy old man? Perhaps. Maybe even probably. But I’d love to know if the Bad Christian hosts have ever provided a convincing scripture justification for their behavior. They seemed almost like a very unfunny and vulgar parody of “youth group dropouts start their own hip-Christian version of Wayne’s World on cable-access”—but got kicked off after one broadcast and had to start a podcast instead.

        Am I being unfair? If yes, I’d truly appreciate the insights of someone of their generation or subculture who could help me understand WHY they think what they are doing is in obedience to the scriptures. I don’t like being the grouchy ol’ guy who complains about “those dang hippy youngins with their drums and guitars!”™ —but I’d like to understand where they are coming from. Do they ACTUALLY think they are doing something impressive and wise when they spew mindless vulgarities like the “cool kids” on the junior high playground? They seemed especially proud of their F-words, MFs, and various Anglo-Saxon terms for excretory functions. They almost succeeded in making Ken Ham sound cerebral and intellectual by comparison—-or perhaps like a grown-up. And that’s not easily done.

  • A message I submitted this morning on the Answers in Genesis website:

    My name is Tyler Francke, and I’m the founder and lead contributor at the Christian website God of Evolution (www.godofevolution.com). Mr. Ken Ham recently wrote a blog post critiquing some of my comments, which I have responded to here: http://www.godofevolution.com/a-response-and-open-invitation-to-ken-ham. In that same post, I invite him, or any representative of Answers in Genesis, to an open dialogue discussing evolution, creation and the proper interpretation of Genesis. I would welcome the opportunity to share why I believe it is unfair and unhelpful to the gospel to routinely describe Christians like myself as “compromisers,” while it would be a great chance for your group to speak directly to the thousands of believers and non-believers who regularly visit my website and social media pages.

    I look forward to hearing from someone at your convenience. Best,
    Tyler Francke

    • Larry Bunce

      Today’s entry on Biologos about the book “Surprised by Scripture,” by N T Wright seems appropriate to GoE vs AiG. Wright says that both hard-line Christianity and science have adopted Epicurean philosophy, which predominates in the modern world. Deism credits God with creating the world, then standing aside to let it run, but Epicureans say God didn’t create it, either.

      The result is that many Christians are unable to see God in the things of everyday life. God is found in church for an hour on Sunday morning, or in the pages of the Bible. The idea that God might use what we call natural processes to work His will in the world is foreign to many Christians. Ken Ham is apparently one who thinks that way, so that any possibility of reconciling science with religion is impossible for them.

      A debate with the AiG brand of Christian is not possible. A debate assumes there is some give-and-take on both sides, but their minds are completely made up, and they will not accept any argument against their position as valid. If God wanted to punish Ken Ham in the afterlife, all He would have to do is to tell him that He used evolution to create the world. Ken would be so convinced that Satan was tricking him that he would demand to go to the other place.

      • I’m sorry to say I think you’re right. Thanks, Larry.

    • Tony Breeden

      Tyler,

      I don’t work for AiG, but I’d be happy to take you up on this offer… if you wouldn’t find it too unpleasant or ineffective, mind you.

      While I’m thinking about it, though, you do realize that your “thousands” of visitors are like a drop in the bucket compared to what AiG already receives, right? Because that kind of makes it look like this is really just an open invitation to increase Tyler Francke’s reputation.

      You know what? Even with that in mind, I’d take a piece of you. I’ve been describes as a “poor man’s Ken Ham” at one point. You could think of it as practice. Maybe see if you’re just biting off waaaaaay more than you can chew.

      I look forward to hearing from you at your inconvenience,

      Siriusly Yours,
      Tony Breeden, DefGen.org, author of Defending Genesis: How We Got Here & Why It Matters

      • Wow, how generous! Thanks but no thanks.

        • Tony Breeden

          Just as I expected. All snark and no substance.

          • Professor_Tertius

            Poor Tony. All of that earnestness ready to go to work and nobody to provide “substance.” OK. I’ll give you something to keep you occupied. (I promise lots of substance and veritable ark-loads of snark. When dealing with Ken “The Scam Man” Ham, the snark is inevitable! The snark-meister tends to get in-kind whatever he dishes out. Someday I should dig through the BSF archives and post for you my old Dr. Seuss send-ups, including the classic GREEN YECS & HAM.)

            I posted the following to a recent Patheos discussion about Ham’s Ark Park and general YECist nonsense. (Plus a little Ham-on-Nye.) In particular, I pose some questions about what’s going into the “Ark Park Docent Training Manual”. I’m especially curious how the Ham-bots and eager Know-nots will be trained in evasive-dodge “answers” to the questions which HamArk-ists have always feared to address—but which will be very hard to avoid once a building-sized, non-aquatic, non-animal-filled, non-ark Ark with nothing but a few cute petting zoo critters will force visitors to begin noticing some troubling realities. So here is that post which got a lot of enthusiastic responses—and, no doubt, your future ire. Enjoy:

            ARK PARK DOCENTS:
            ADD SOME STAMMER TO YOUR YAMMER.

            Yes, even the readers of the evangelical Christian periodical CHRISTIANITY TODAY polled at something like 88% toward a Bill Nye debate win. Of course, Ken Ham has long been considered the “crazy uncle in the attic” among educated evangelicals, so no surprise there. And when Ham basically said that EVIDENCE wouldn’t make a bit of difference to him, even some of his fans let out a gasp. I think Ham’s all-consuming hubris and spinning out of control is leading more people to predict a “Heritage USA” type of debacle coming up. Adding the extremely expensive Ark Park to an already failing Creation Museum—doomed tourist traps too far out in the boonies to be financially sustainable long-term–will soon start putting a dollar drain on general revenues at AIG that Ham will not be able to cover up forever.

            Ham already has lost some of his “creation scientists” to the frustration of virtually no actual “scientific research budget” despite $22 million in annual revenue (plus millions more in special gifts.) And Ham is still telling his Ph.D.s that “someday” they will have generous research budgets—even while he continues to pay for the expensive blueprints of many future “phases” of the Ark Park. They realize that Ham doesn’t care about science in any form, so he will NEVER budget the laboratory funds and research assistants he promised when he recruited them.

            I predict that the entire operation will be in obvious trouble within about five years. If Ham is lucky, he’ll be able to cover it up for about ten years. But he will start sweating profusely in three years. There are only so many homeschooling families and die-hard Young Earth Creationists. And because the admission costs to both attractions are so expensive—with burdensome parking fees also designed to be profit-centers—very few visitors will return often enough to impact the bottom line. Moreover, there is nothing else in the area to draw tourists.

            Ham would have been far wiser to spend similar money on the ultimate “virtual reality Genesis experience” software and open a series of tourist attractions alongside various seaquariums and science museums around the country at some of the busiest tourist centers. (Consider the Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction in many cities at the low end and IMAX theaters at the high end.) If Ken Ham is truly interesting in spreading his “creation science” ideas to the largest possible audience, such a model would cost far less to maintain and would have a constant stream of visitors—even bored non-Christians who will simply be curious and interested in a 3D “thrill ride” that is a 90-minute diversion that they notice while walking down the boardwalk.

            Why didn’t Ham do that instead? Firstly, he’s not very imaginative nor tech savvy. Secondly, it wouldn’t appeal to his ego. He wants to build the ultimate “fundamentalist Christian Disneyland”, something which others have tried to do but failed. His NPD requires a vast domain that he can survey. Widely scattered tech franchises all over the world would be much more lucrative but they wouldn’t stroke his ego. He wants to look down upon vast crowds of his fans. Plus, he’s already employing plenty of family members and he foresees generations of Hams running the family business at one vast location.

            Instead, he’s going to have a lot of people coming to see a floating ark of animals—but finding instead an ark-shaped building with a small petting zoo. The impact will be…… underwhelming. Even for his biggest fans. (They will feign excitement for a few years, and rarely verbalize their disappointment. But eventually they will talk about it.) They will come to the Ark Park, look around, and say, “Is that it? What’s the point?”

            The ONLY thing the ark-shaped building accomplishes is to convey the size of the ark. And what will his docents say when visitors ask:

            (1) “What percentage of the internal volume of the ark (i.e., the cubic cubits!) must have been devoted to support columns/beams?” I’m not an engineer, but for something that size made of wood, I would estimate at least half. (Ham will claim that “They had advance technology that the Bible doesn’t mention.” Yet, even if we assume special metal alloys, carbon fibers, and whatever, load-bearing structure will consume an enormous percentage of a vessel that size.

            (2) “What percentage of the internal volume of the ark was devoted to over a year of food supplies for the animals and people?”

            (3) “What percentage of the interval volume of the ark was devoted to fresh water storage?” (Perhaps Ham will claim that much like the tropical jungles of today, mornings always brought rains. OK. Then consider additional demands on #4 below.

            (4) “What percentage of the interval volume of the ark was devoted to ventilation?” To avoid poisonous concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide, the demands on air circulation must have been enormous.

            (5) “What percentage of the interval volume of the ark was devoted to hallways, stairways, elevators(?), and conduits for fresh water and grey & black waste-water plumbing.

            I have NEVER seen Ham’s people publish any of these basic logistical numbers. In THE GENESIS FLOOD (1962, Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr.), the authors pretended that the entire inner volume of the ark was available for containing the many thousands of animal species.

            Of course, Ham is smart enough NOT to try and make a zoo out of the Ark Park. That would force him to deal with the realities of packing a lot of animals into a small space—-and funding for food and staffing on a par with a real world zoo. (I understand that for large vertebrates, for example, zoo staffing for animal care alone runs about four people per animal. Or more.)

            No doubt someone is going to have the job of writing the master “docent’s guide”. Staff will be prohibited from answering any question not included in that book of scripted answers and one wonders what they will be told to say in response to unanswerable questions. (My guess is “God would have told Noah the answers he needed to know. We, on the other, don’t need those answers because the global flood of Noah was a one-time event.)

            Of course, I’d also like to ask them why the Hebrew text of Genesis says absolutely NOTHING about a GLOBAL flood!

      • Professor_Tertius

        Tony Breeden wrote: “I’ve been describes as a “poor man’s Ken Ham” at one point. I congratulate you, Tony, for acknowledging Ham’s very expensive commercialism! Considering the very high prices on the admission tickets to the Creation Museum and the Ark Park and then their respective parking charges (despite being way out in rural Kentucky) certainly does call for a “poor man’s” alternative to Ken Ham’s money machine.

        Of course, I also applaud “defending Genesis”, although in your case and in Ham’s, one doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. in Semitic Languages or Ancient Near Eastern Studies to recognize that you both are far more interested in defending the favorite cherished traditions of your respective sects than in defending God’s revelations in the Book of Genesis and in His creation itself.

  • Jimpithecus

    Join the fun. I got zinged by Ken Ham (once again, not by name) a month or so back for my series on human origins over at BioLogos.

    • I can only guess that Ham spends most of his day trolling the Internet for posts about himself and, failing that, anything critical about his precious young-earth creationism. I wonder what’s the longest he’s ever gone without trying to pick a fight with someone he views as a philsophical enemy?

  • Romulus Lupin

    I personally left theistic evolution in favor of atheism because I began to feel like I was viewing myself on the prounicorn end of the unicorn conversation in Carl Sagan’s book “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” (I think; I only read this and a couple other excerpts from the book).

    Basically I would be claiming that my pet unicorn exists and that “it just doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on the natural world, so you can’t detect it” without any valid evidence to back up my belief. But at least that way its possible for me to be a competent, let’s say, paleontologist, who makes observations of, let’s say, deinonychus fossils, forms hypotheses based on those fossils, tests those hypotheses against more and more data, and if the data match up with the hypotheses they become theories but if not they’re either adjusted to fit the data or discarded. When I come home, however, I feed my illusive pet unicorn some undetectable, let’s say, carrots, and then I invite him to sit down by me and help me to find something to watch on Netflix.

    I would be living two lives: One as a man of science, the other as a man of…well, unicorns. My more rational life as a scientist is not affected in any way whatsoever by my imaginary pet unicorn, however, because my unicorn supposedly has no affect whatsoever on the natural world I’m studying.

    I have always been a science reader, not a scientist, but back when I believed in theistic evolution, I would read about science and try to apply rational thinking to what I read, but when I read the Bible I would just ignore any lurking counts I had and immerse myself in prayer. I felt okay about that though because I figured that what I read in the Bible wasn’t meant to be taken in a way that would affect current scientific knowledge regarding evolution, homosexuality, etc.

    I eventually came to realize, though, that the only reason I remained a Christian who accepted science instead of doing away with religion altogether was that I felt comfortable believing in Jesus Christ because that was what I grew up with, and that having a way to reconcile accepting both science and Christianity was not the same as having a valid reason to believe in it over atheism or any other faith out there; if I get to both believe in Christianity and accept science, then some other guy gets to both accept Christianity and have his pet unicorn, as long as he thinks it doesn’t have any affect whatsoever on the natural world and therefore on current scientific knowledge.

    Not to be disrespectful at all, Tyler, I’m glad to see some Christians don’t want the religion to affect current scientific knowledge. I just personally don’t see any reason to believe in God if he is unfalsifiable.

    • Alan S

      Hi Romulus!

      I would completely agree with you that you shouldn’t believe in Jesus Christ “because that was what [you] grew up with”. That’s a terrible reason to believe anything, really. But what if there are actually good REASONS to believe in Jesus Christ? Have you ever devoted as much time to researching the case for the resurrection of Jesus as you have to reading science? There are some pretty weighty (literally and figuratively) books on the subject, such as NT Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God”. If you haven’t read it, please give it a shot. What can it hurt? If nothing else, it will give you much food for thought; Wright is a respected scholar and theologian.

      http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=12D8GBXHN7MCES5C7F4Y

    • Larry Bunce

      Romulus, science is only one way of making sence of the world. When a poet refers to the ‘wine-dark sea,’ we don’t have to give up our knowledge that sea water is H2O and NaCl to appreciate the poem. We don’t even have to speculate that in Homer’s time the ocean was filled with purple water.
      Scientific discoveies explain one thing, but bring up new questions. We would live very unsatisfying lives if we picked our music based on which composer or performer had the most talent, or fell in love based on who answered a personality test the same way we did.

    • Professor_Tertius

      Why do so many people treat the unicorn as the ultimate “mythical animal” when a unicorn (UNI/”one” + CORNUS/”horn”) is simply an old word for the Indian Rhinoceros, which has a single horn?

      Of course, even today, the word is used within the Latin scientific name for the animal.

  • Romulus Lupin

    Thanks, Alan, will check it out.

  • Professor_Tertius

    My vision is very poor and I have to use special software, so I’m apparently missing the link to where I can hear the infamous eight minute podcast. I just find it in the above. Help please?

    • Chris

      The link is broken, and looks to be too old to be on iTunes. Try here you can download it, I just did. I’m looking forward to hearing this tomorrow, I’ve only ever heard one other episode (#83) of BCP. Not for the prude for sure, but they tell it like it is.

  • Professor_Tertius

    My warm thanks to “Chris” for sending me the missing link (!) to the interview in question:

    http://bcpod.libsyn.com/bcpod-30-the-evolution-episode-with-tyler-francke

    I’m thanking you here because I didn’t see a way to reply to the message directly. There are bound to be others who want to read/hear Tyler’s responses in the Bad Christian interview.

    As I’ve noted in a prior post below, I wouldn’t necessarily label the hosts of the broadcast “bad Christians” so much as “unwise” and lacking in spiritual maturity. I’d be interested in hearing what the hosts think about Paul’s admonitions in Eph 4:29 and 5:4 and how they view our avoiding the creation of stumbling blocks which offend the “weaker brother”. I’ve not yet listened to the evolution podcast with Tyler but I sampled some others and I’ve come away very curious. Would Jesus Christ tell the hosts of “Bad Christians” to make “creative authenticity as artists” their final determinant of what they say and do? (That seems to be their standard.) Or should they sacrifice their own preferences and will for the good of the Great Commission and being wising ambassadors for Jesus Christ? If Jesus were a guest on their podcast, would he applaud their torrents of F-words, MFs, and excretory references? Does behaving like foul-mouthed junior-highers who are proud of their vulgar exhibitions of “brave vocabulary” which limits their audience (to where churches don’t want to invite them to perform at church events) make them seem more like Jesus or more like the carnal world from which we are to separate ourselves? I ask that sincerely. They have surely been challenged by other readers/listeners.

    I’m a big fan of Tyler’s efforts to exhort our Christian brethren to not use origins issues as a provocation towards rancor and division within the body. So I’ve also asked myself this question: If the hosts of Bad Christian were to invite me to be a guest on a podcast to talk about my experiences within the early “creation science” movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s and about how I found my way out, would I also feel led to exhort them (probably in private) to declare a moratorium on vulgar speech and obscene remarks for the duration of the podcast so that the resulting audio recording might be more useful in reaching out to Young Earth Creationists? (Perhaps the podcast might even be used within a Sunday School or Youth Group context—which certainly won’t happen if it is intermingled with vulgar cussing. And despite the provocative title of one of their podcasts: No, avoiding cuss words is NOT a sin for the wise Christ-follower. Seriously??)

    I feel sad that Tyler’s wise words will get less of a hearing due to the vulgar and totally unnecessary (and yes, pointless) juvenile behavior of the hosts which came up in every one of the podcasts I sampled. Why create DISTRACTIONS from an important topic? Why pose stumbling blocks for the weaker brother? Why try to sound MORE like the world instead less, as the scriptures exhort us to separate ourselves from habits of the carnal world around us? Do they TRULY believe that spewing word-vomit like bratty teenagers in defiance of the commands of Jesus and the Apostle Paul helps their witness for Christ?

    I’m definitely open to being schooled in “cross cultural communication”. As a Bible translation consultant who has had to deal with these kinds of communications obstacles on the mission field, I’m certainly willing to admit my ignorance of many aspects of Millennial culture. So please do correct and/or enlighten me where warranted. I find myself disagreeing with Ken Ham on a regular basis and I didn’t like HOW Ham chose to react to the interview, but if I had been commenting on the interview in my blog, I too would have had to waste time warning my readers that the Bad Christian podcasts are not good models of Christian behavior that one would casually include in a Sunday School lesson.

    So…..am I wrong?

  • Professor_Tertius

    With the help of “Chris” (Thanks, Chris!) I was able to download the podcast and listen to the interview with Tyler. Sadly, the hosts monopolized the discussion and constantly argued among themselves. They are no doubt sincere and well-meaning individuals but one is hardpressed to find occasional worthwhile nuggets within their tedious banter that goes on forever. (Guys, not every shoot-the-breeze discussion you may have among yourselves in your basement between your band’s gigs are worthy of online distribution. The hosts exhibit no special knowledge of scripture or science or spiritual insights, so I’m not sure why they think everyone should financially support their podcast. The “bravery” to spew vulgarities with abandon–for which they regularly congratulate themselves as if a great accomplishment—doesn’t translate into special wisdom or edifying words.)

    I was disappointed that they didn’t take better advantage to learn from what Tyler could have shared with them.